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7 tips to make best nutrition choices

September 9, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The most well-known sources of nutrition are not always the best. Here's what you need to know when looking for what's good for you, what's better, and what's the absolute best.Your grocery bags may be filled with what you think is healthy food, but by and large when it comes to getting the most bang for our nutritional buck, we can do better. From beef to salad dressing, here are seven ways to get good, better, or best from your food choices.

First, start with your protein. Lean beef is good -- especially loin or round cuts to cut back on saturated fat. If you can afford it, organic is better. They are free of hormones, antibiotics, chemicals and pesticides. But your best bet is grass-fed, which have higher amounts of heart-healthy Omega-3 fats and typically leaner than commercial stock.

At the fish counter, tilapia is a good bet, as it is low calorie and low mercury. Better is halibut, with a good source of Omega-3 fats. Wild salmon, though, is your best bet for that same heart-healthy oil, along with being low in contaminants.

If yogurt is in your life, a low-fat flavored yogurt is a good calcium choice, but often comes with a good amount of added sugar. Low-fat plain is better with healthy bacteria and lower sugar count. Greek is best, and it's also a good calcium source. Plus, it often contains twice the protein and a richer, creamier taste that can be used in lieu of sour cream or fattening dips.

For snacks, look to popcorn with natural fiber as a good bet. Peanuts up the ante a bit with monounsaturated fat and fiber. But almonds are best, as along with Vitamin E and calcium, they're a good fiber source to boot.

If you are looking for dried fruit, iron-rich raisins are nice. Vitamin A-packed apricots are a bit better. Dried figs are the best, providing a nice fiber source, which has been shown to suppress appetite.

When it comes to getting your greens, romaine is an iron-rich choice. The often underestimated watercress ups your calcium quotient. But spinach is one of the best, packed with iron and lutein, which promotes eye health.

When topping those greens, try a low-fat version of something creamy (if you've got to have it). But a full-fatted oil-based dressing is better, helping to absorb fat soluble vitamins from food. Flavored vinegar with olive oil is your best bet, as it's considered the best vegetable oil in terms of heart health and reducing inflammation.

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